Tupac Lives: Rappers Who Channel the Lost Legend

Azealia Banks, Kendrick Lamar, Killer Mike and more.

We Miss You Pac - On September 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur died. It was a violent death; a tragic Las Vegas drive-by that took the life of one of music?s most controversial, beloved, and best-selling figures. On the 19th anniversary of his passing, BET.com dissects the many sides of the iconic hip hop visionary who was equally adept at making clear-eyed Black nationalist statements (1991?s ?Trapped?); and feel-good jams (1993?s ?I Get Around?) as he was penning venomous; thugged-out threats (1996?s ?Hit ?Em Up?) and beautiful testimonies on everyday life (1996?s ?I Ain?t Mad At Cha?). ?Pac was a complex dude and his spirit can be heard throughout a myriad of acts today. Here are 10 artists that carry on a piece of the indelible legacy of Tupac Shakur. - Keith Murphy(Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect/Getty Images)

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We Miss You Pac - On September 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur died. It was a violent death; a tragic Las Vegas drive-by that took the life of one of music’s most controversial, beloved, and best-selling figures. On the 19th anniversary of his passing, BET.com dissects the many sides of the iconic hip hop visionary who was equally adept at making clear-eyed Black nationalist statements (1991’s “Trapped”); and feel-good jams (1993’s “I Get Around”) as he was penning venomous; thugged-out threats (1996’s “Hit ‘Em Up”) and beautiful testimonies on everyday life (1996’s “I Ain’t Mad At Cha”). ‘Pac was a complex dude and his spirit can be heard throughout a myriad of acts today. Here are 10 artists that carry on a piece of the indelible legacy of Tupac Shakur. - Keith Murphy(Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect/Getty Images)

Azealia Banks = Pac?s Unflinching Honesty - At this point in Azealia Banks? mercurial career, the fearless (and some say reckless) Harlem rhyme vixen?s greatest hits album would be dominated more by her seemingly endless list of verbal and social media smackdowns than actual songs. ?All of y?all b***hes are whack and make boring music and rip all ur styles off the downtown NYC girls,? she dismissed of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj following their much talked about MTV Video Music Awards beef-triangle. At times cringe-worthy, other times refreshing, Banks keeps it real to unfiltered Tupac-ish heights.(Photo: Cassandra Hannagan/Getty Images)

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Azealia Banks = Pac’s Unflinching Honesty - At this point in Azealia Banks’ mercurial career, the fearless (and some say reckless) Harlem rhyme vixen’s greatest hits album would be dominated more by her seemingly endless list of verbal and social media smackdowns than actual songs. “All of y’all b***hes are whack and make boring music and rip all ur styles off the downtown NYC girls,” she dismissed of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj following their much talked about MTV Video Music Awards beef-triangle. At times cringe-worthy, other times refreshing, Banks keeps it real to unfiltered Tupac-ish heights.(Photo: Cassandra Hannagan/Getty Images)

Kendrick Lamar = Pac?s Heartfelt Poetry - Kendrick has often cited Tupac as his most indispensible artistic influence, so much so that he featured the celebrated rap icon on his acclaimed work To Pimp A Butterfly during the dreamy conversation track ?Mortal Man.? Just like the man who composed the loving testimony ?Dear Mama,? Compton?s exceptional bundle of emotions can induce listeners to tears, anger, and sheer gleefulness in just a matter of minutes. Don?t take our word for it. Check it out here. (Photo: Chiaki Nozu/Getty Images)

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Kendrick Lamar = Pac’s Heartfelt Poetry - Kendrick has often cited Tupac as his most indispensible artistic influence, so much so that he featured the celebrated rap icon on his acclaimed work To Pimp A Butterfly during the dreamy conversation track “Mortal Man.” Just like the man who composed the loving testimony “Dear Mama,” Compton’s exceptional bundle of emotions can induce listeners to tears, anger, and sheer gleefulness in just a matter of minutes. Don’t take our word for it. Check it out here. (Photo: Chiaki Nozu/Getty Images)

Killer Mike = Pac?s Socially Conscious Fire - Indeed, there?s a reason Killer Mike, one half of the soaring duo Run the Jewels, is hip hop?s go-to commentator when things in the Black community fall apart. Whether it?s the game-changing murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri or the Baltimore riots sparked by the alleged police-connected death of Freddie Gray, you can always count on Mike to drop straight-no-chaser insight on the important topics of the day much like Pac did.(Photo: C Brandon/Redferns)

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Killer Mike = Pac’s Socially Conscious Fire - Indeed, there’s a reason Killer Mike, one half of the soaring duo Run the Jewels, is hip hop’s go-to commentator when things in the Black community fall apart. Whether it’s the game-changing murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri or the Baltimore riots sparked by the alleged police-connected death of Freddie Gray, you can always count on Mike to drop straight-no-chaser insight on the important topics of the day much like Pac did.(Photo: C Brandon/Redferns)

Lil Durk = Pac?s Unmitigated Hood Swagger - It would be too easy to describe Chicago?s Lil Durk as merely the same ilk as Chief Keef. Let?s just say that while he?s no choirboy on the mic, the Drill music master certainly presents a more refined, cocky-for-a-reason image that balances out often times volatile, gun-play-fueled lyricism.(Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for 100,000 Opportunities Initiative)

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Lil Durk = Pac’s Unmitigated Hood Swagger - It would be too easy to describe Chicago’s Lil Durk as merely the same ilk as Chief Keef. Let’s just say that while he’s no choirboy on the mic, the Drill music master certainly presents a more refined, cocky-for-a-reason image that balances out often times volatile, gun-play-fueled lyricism.(Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for 100,000 Opportunities Initiative)

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Rich Homie Quan = Pac?s Party-Igniting Magic - There are rappers who are blessed with the ability to turn up the set on their own hood-encased terms; rappers who utilize their otherwise gutter sensibilities to create something downright catchy. For all of Tupac?s thinking-man?s self-reflective statements and brutal, G?d up beatdowns, he was also a man that could get the party started. Put ?How Do You Want It? on today and people will still recite its Hennessy-drenched lyrics like lit-up fools. So far in his relatively young career, Rich Homie Quan has shown the same taken-for-granted skill for marrying infectious poppy radio hooks with street credibility. Yes, you may need a translator to actually understand what Quan is spitting on his latest anthem ?Flex,? but when it?s blasting out the speakers at the club, you can?t help but mumble along. (Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

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Rich Homie Quan = Pac’s Party-Igniting Magic - There are rappers who are blessed with the ability to turn up the set on their own hood-encased terms; rappers who utilize their otherwise gutter sensibilities to create something downright catchy. For all of Tupac’s thinking-man’s self-reflective statements and brutal, G’d up beatdowns, he was also a man that could get the party started. Put “How Do You Want It” on today and people will still recite its Hennessy-drenched lyrics like lit-up fools. So far in his relatively young career, Rich Homie Quan has shown the same taken-for-granted skill for marrying infectious poppy radio hooks with street credibility. Yes, you may need a translator to actually understand what Quan is spitting on his latest anthem “Flex,” but when it’s blasting out the speakers at the club, you can’t help but mumble along. (Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

YG = Pac?s Thug Life - At its best, Tupac?s ?Thug Life? mantra was a complex statement on the disenfranchisement of young Black men who managed to find strength in the very same oppressive label stamped on them by an often times systemically racist power structure. At its worst it was narcissistic and self-destructive?ultimately leading to Pac?s tragic downfall. Here?s hoping that Compton?s talented, charismatic new breed ?hood star YG?who isn?t shy about flexing his own Blood gang credentials?chooses the former path.(Photo: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images for adidas)

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YG = Pac’s Thug Life - At its best, Tupac’s “Thug Life” mantra was a complex statement on the disenfranchisement of young Black men who managed to find strength in the very same oppressive label stamped on them by an often times systemically racist power structure. At its worst it was narcissistic and self-destructive—ultimately leading to Pac’s tragic downfall. Here’s hoping that Compton’s talented, charismatic new breed ‘hood star YG—who isn’t shy about flexing his own Blood gang credentials—chooses the former path.(Photo: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images for adidas)

J. Cole = Pac?s Everyman Spirit - The secret to J. Cole?s success? He connects with his fans on an unpretentious, common man level. As much as it confounds jaded critics searching for reasons as to how the thoroughly low-key North Carolina representative can go Platinum during a time when ratchet behavior and a jet-setting, TMZ obsessed image seemingly goes hand-in-hand with success in rap, the cynics have to deal with the fact that Cole?like Tupac before his ego-inflating jump to Death Row Records in 1995?is a grassroots champ.(Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch)

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J. Cole = Pac’s Everyman Spirit - The secret to J. Cole’s success? He connects with his fans on an unpretentious, common man level. As much as it confounds jaded critics searching for reasons as to how the thoroughly low-key North Carolina representative can go Platinum during a time when ratchet behavior and a jet-setting, TMZ obsessed image seemingly goes hand-in-hand with success in rap, the cynics have to deal with the fact that Cole—like Tupac before his ego-inflating jump to Death Row Records in 1995—is a grassroots champ.(Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch)

Dej Loaf = Pac?s Effortless Cool - Does Dej Loaf ever sweat? Seriously, the 24-year-old Detroit singer/rapper/bad*ss seems to have two speeds: Chill?and ridiculously chill. The hard but petite straight shooter has little patience for buster-*ss groupies, trite music industry politics and fake thugs, as exhibited on her side-eye cutting Big Sean collaboration ?Back Up.? Pac would love the girl.(Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images)

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Dej Loaf = Pac’s Effortless Cool - Does Dej Loaf ever sweat? Seriously, the 24-year-old Detroit singer/rapper/bad*ss seems to have two speeds: Chill…and ridiculously chill. The hard but petite straight shooter has little patience for buster-*ss groupies, trite music industry politics and fake thugs, as exhibited on her side-eye cutting Big Sean collaboration “Back Up.” Pac would love the girl.(Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images)

Vince Staples = Pac?s Unpredictable Muse - Vince Staples is a tough talent to pin down. One minute he?s protesting the vicious cycle of police brutality and getting his new age back packer rap on with Earl Sweatshirt, and the next he?s firing off some serious West Coast gangsta s**t. Just as Tupac made it his business to switch lanes without warning, Staples' unpredictable vision will keep you guessing.(Photo: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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Vince Staples = Pac’s Unpredictable Muse - Vince Staples is a tough talent to pin down. One minute he’s protesting the vicious cycle of police brutality and getting his new age back packer rap on with Earl Sweatshirt, and the next he’s firing off some serious West Coast gangsta s**t. Just as Tupac made it his business to switch lanes without warning, Staples' unpredictable vision will keep you guessing.(Photo: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Kanye West = Pac?s Rock Star Aura - Last July, Mr. West declared himself the greatest living rock star. It was a ballsy statement that was met with amusement and downright hostility from the rock-n-roll community. But say this about Kanye?he is a polarizing, trend-setting, quote monster-flinging, award show-stealing rebel who is more of a rock star than any of the latest bands attempting to crank their guitars up to 11. Word to Pac.(Photo: Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

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Kanye West = Pac’s Rock Star Aura - Last July, Mr. West declared himself the greatest living rock star. It was a ballsy statement that was met with amusement and downright hostility from the rock-n-roll community. But say this about Kanye—he is a polarizing, trend-setting, quote monster-flinging, award show-stealing rebel who is more of a rock star than any of the latest bands attempting to crank their guitars up to 11. Word to Pac.(Photo: Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)